On Wednesday June 16th, House Concurrent Resolution 23 was officially filed with the clerk of the Ohio House of Representatives. HCR 23 urged the United States federal government to designate June 19th as a national holiday. State Representative Kent Smith (D-Euclid) was proud to be one of 27 Democratic cosponsors of the resolution at the date of its filing. The next day, Thursday June 17th, President Joe Biden signed legislation designating June 19th as America's 12th federal holiday.
"I applaud the efforts of my Democratic colleagues in Columbus to give Juneteenth its proper place on the American calendar," said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). "And I am gladdened by the strong bipartisan support this legislation earned in Washington DC. America is right to commemorate the history of Juneteenth as an important pivot point in the struggle for justice, equality and freedom. But it is just as important that Juneteenth become a lesson and a reminder that this nation needs to always be striving for more justice, equality and freedom in our collective future. The ideal of America should always motivate its citizens and its elected leaders to broaden the reach of the American promise. Today, President Biden, and legislators from both political parties, made America better for its future."
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the news of the end of slavery reached those in the southwestern states two months after the Confederacy surrendered, therefore ending the Civil War, and two and one-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Many states, but not Ohio, already recognized Juneteenth as a holiday or have an official observance of the day. Juneteenth was already a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington. Juneteenth becomes the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.